Skip to content

6 ways to earn money transporting passengers without spending more

Edgar Ordoñez

It is undeniable: one of the 2022 trends in the transportation industry is the increase in vehicle purchase, repair, and maintenance costs. And this includes passenger transport. A common concern in all Latin American countries in passenger land transport companies is how to keep the business profitable after the pandemic.

I leave you 6 keys that will be useful to you, whether you want:

 Starting a passenger transportation business

– Improve profits and quality in your passenger transport service

– Reduce time and money expenses in your passenger transport company

1.-Deja de ver a tus pasajeros como una carga

One of the main errors seen in land passenger transport throughout Latin America is the lack of planning and modernization for the allocation and distribution of routes and units, in addition to the use of empirical methods when evaluating their drivers.

The land transport sector has more routes than all the airlines combined and having a damaged vehicle, roads interrupted by weather factors or insecurity factors can affect the entire operation.

Unfortunately, companies are not able to act quickly and this affects the quality of service that passengers perceive. They do not consider the direct affectation that a passenger has when the service is not fulfilled as it should.

The truth is that if we talk about land passenger transport fleets, in many countries these exceed the number of cargo transport fleets. However, little attention is still paid to improvement implementation strategies in that sector.

In Ecuador, for example, until 2008, 67.1% of heavy vehicles were dedicated to passenger transport, versus 32.9% of vehicles dedicated to cargo transport.

Passenger transport is extremely demanding, complex and exhausting. Quick decisions must be made every day; act with agility and travel long distances on high-risk roads; work long hours of work without a break; dealing with angry customers; Comply with the regulations of each municipality and, in addition, those of the national regulators.

In these circumstances, who has time to stop to think about what each passenger who boards the bus wants or needs? Surely you think that every second you waste talking to a passenger or focusing on customer service represents a waste of time and therefore money.

Could not be farther from the truth! The transport companies that make a difference are those that offer a more personalized service to their passengers, implementing improvements in the quality of their work. The regulation of passenger transport varies from country to country. However, it is often municipal transport companies that meet certain quality standards that are authorized to charge higher rates for their service.

As for private passenger transport companies, those that distinguish themselves by providing warmer treatment to their passengers are usually preferred by customers, even though they may charge more money for that.

The key? Look for measures to improve the productivity of your fleet, reducing the level of stress, lowering downtime and operating costs, so that you can take your work with greater calm and concentration and thus interact with your passengers in a more present and close way.

Hiring a telematics solution will help you optimize your processes so you can focus on your customer service.

Some key questions to measure your service:

– Does your passenger transport company offer the possibility of online purchase?
– Do you report the suspension of a route or the replacement of a unit due to damage before starting your trip?
– Do you ask if your passengers have a medical condition so that the driver provides emergency roadside assistance and identifies the nearest hospital on each of the routes?
– Can you reorganize the frequencies of your routes if the road is interrupted by a landslide?

An example that will inspire you: this bus driver from the United States went further in his passenger transport service and participated in the rescue of a little dog that was being kidnapped. He did it without expecting anything in return. However, his story went viral, making his the most recognized passenger transport company in his region. This is the kind of priceless advertising that can transform your business forever. Remember: your “load” is made up of people with their own problems, families, and even pets..

Here, another story that can inspire you. A passenger transport bus on the Quito-Esmeraldas route faced a falling tree that forced the driver to make a very sharp turn to avoid impact. Among its passengers was an elderly woman about to suffer a heart attack due to the unexpected maneuver. The driver stopped after a few meters and gave him basic care.

Her gesture generated the collective help of the rest of the passengers who not only supported the lady, but also helped move the tree on the road so that the other drivers did not have an accident. This gesture demonstrated for the first time that the cooperative does think of its passengers and other drivers on the road.

2.-Practice empathy, train yourself and improve your reputation

Nobody likes to pay for the services of those they consider to be bad people. Your reputation has a direct relationship with how much you are going to earn in your business.

In Ecuador, for example, there have been transport companies involved in so many scandals due to traffic accidents on the highways, that the mere mention of their name was synonymous with danger. Some of them have had to change their entire graphic image for people to begin to identify them in a new way.

How to protect your image? Practice empathy. This means putting yourself in the place of the other; but not only of your passengers, whose lives are in your hands, but also of the other drivers on the road whom you affect with each decision you make.

Another way to improve your reputation is by distinguishing your fleet for having the best-trained drivers. Get used to keeping your drivers in a continuous training process. But also focus on monitoring and permanently reinforcing their knowledge.

It is not enough to train to obtain a license. Your drivers should receive courses and workshops that sharpen their driving skills, and be aware of new driving assistance technologies.

3.- Lose your fear of technology

Automotive industry experts agree that the use of electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and telematics are changing the future of fleet management forever.

According to this ECLAC study, in the last 25 years of the 20th century, there has been a change in the regulations of the Latin American governments regarding the private fleet management market, providing more freedom of choice to transport fleet operators. This means that they have more access to technologies that will allow them to:

– Identify fatigued and drowsy drivers, with in-cab driver assistance modules

– Identify speeding with advanced analytics

– Identify distracted drivers

– Find out when and why stop delays occur 

– Monitor the entry and exit of passengers from a unit

– Optimize general maintenance processes by 15%

– Reduce fuel costs by 8% to 12%

– Reduce by 12% to 20% the cost related to accidents

– Reduce labor costs by 10%

4. Slow down

Speeding has a direct influence on the road safety of a fleet. Bogotá, for example, a city with heavy and complicated traffic in Latin America, managed to reduce its deaths from traffic accidents by more than 30%, simply by reducing the speed limit to 50 km/h.

This is especially important for passenger transport fleets, since, as I mentioned above, an accident when transporting people is infinitely more serious than an accident in which material goods are lost, something that can damage your reputation, even Sometimes, to ruin your business forever. Additionally, an accident can cost your passenger transport fleet anywhere from $74,000 to $1 million.

An example of this urgent need and shared concern throughout Latin America are the objectives set in each country in terms of road safety for this decade, according to the International Transport Forum. Most Latin American countries focus on reducing deaths from accidents, a serious and, unfortunately, common problem on our continent.

5.-Change the way you do maintenance

How, when and why to carry out fleet maintenance? You should forget about the old method of “saving” on maintenance: leave visits to the workshop only for when breakdowns occur. This is the easiest way to lose money.

The correct and most profitable way to maintain your passenger transport fleet is to perform preventive maintenance. This prevents future loss of money, having to take buses out of circulation or spend large sums for serious damage.

In addition, having this custom strengthens a culture of planning in all processes, which is sorely lacking in Latin America. It is necessary that we begin to understand the responsibility that each driver has behind the wheel and begin to anticipate every possible problem on the road. 

Improper maintenance can lead to excess fuel usage of up to 10%. On the other hand, according to the Accenture consultancy, the timely inspection of a vehicle reduces corrective maintenance costs by 20%. Also remember that 30% of accidents, between large and medium-sized vehicles, are caused by brake problems and 6% by smooth or bad tires. Great care! All these factors can directly affect the expenses and savings of your fleet.

6.-Put your fleet to work 24 hours a day

No! It’s not what you’re thinking. It’s not about your drivers working fewer hours without a break. On the contrary, it is about taking advantage of the technology that I mentioned in point three to increase the productivity and profitability of your fleet.

There are fleets in the world that have their vehicles working 24 hours a day and only stop them for maintenance.

¿The secret? Better plan driver shifts; measures driving time and assigns more experienced drivers based on their trip record scores.

Using the same vehicle with different drivers? This is possible through the use of an accessory known as the Dallas key. In this way, your company can multiply its profits and optimize the work of its drivers.

In conclusion, focusing on a constant improvement of your service may seem like an expensive investment at first, but the truth is that it will save you time, money and problems in your passenger transport fleet and will allow you to spend less and obtain greater profits in the future. Whether you want to start a passenger transport company or take your current one to a new level of performance and profitability.